He Ordained Peace

 

 

O LORD, you will ordain peace for us; you have done for us all our works. Isaiah 26:12

Peace.

I doubt whether there is anything so sought after or valued in this world. Peacemakers are commended, both in Scripture and by society.

Why, then, is there not peace? War and conflict spread overwhelmingly and unceasingly around the world, which begs the question, “Is complete peace possible?”

And yet, God promised peace in Isaiah. Even more than that, the Sovereign Lord decreed, commanded, ordained that it should be so. Peace for us.

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
         And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Luke 2:13-14

Around 700 years after Isaiah told of God’s promised peace, angels descended on the hills of Bethlehem to declare that peace had come to those of God’s favor.  What peace was this? This peace was Jesus, the Christ, who did our works for us. The Messiah who was our righteousness, became our sin, took our judgment, and delivered us from death.

And he ordained for us peace. Peace with God the Father through forgiveness. Peace because Christ has overcome this world — including sin and death. Peace that guards our hearts and minds. He is the Prince of Peace. Since it is his sovereignty that has ordained peace, peace must, therefore, be ours.

That must also mean, then, that wars and sin struggles are not the end. Senseless violence will not endure.

God has ordained peace.  By His Spirit we have peace with our God that our hearts can feel even in this war-torn world. By His perfect peace and strength may we persevere as peacemakers even as we await the fulfillment of time when the people at peace with God will live in a world of peace.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you; because he trusts in you.

Trust in the LORD forever, for the the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26:3-4

 

 

New Year 2012: Will I begin with pride or humility?

Like many others do this time of year, I have made resolutions that I fully intended to carry out.  At least until June.  (By then it should be habit, right?)  Often, I set out to conquer, determined to be strong.  The temptation and tendency to pride is pretty strong.  I will be better.  I will be skinnier.  I will be more disciplined.  I will read more books.  I will simplify.  I will. I will.  I will.

This quickly turns in to “This is my will and I will do it on my own strength.”  Pride.

The second aspect of celebrating the New Year is looking back on the “old” year.  That is a different and more beautiful story.  Maybe my plans worked out.  Maybe they didn’t.  But, it was God’s will and God’s plan that was always fulfilled.  And never once did I carry myself — not even in the happy times.  Looking back, I see my strength leave, and God’s grace restore from an unending supply.  I see many blessings that I didn’t know could even be had.  I see how God revealed more of His love and mercy to me.  I see Him break my will;  I see Him restore my joy.  Pride can’t look at that and live.  Humility can.

My New Year’s prayer for myself is that my heart would not be so divided as to look on the past with humble amazement and the future with prideful ambition.  May I consider both with humility and “go out with joy and go forth in peace.”

Happy New Year!  May you be blessed with much joy and confidence as you see God’s plan unfold in this next year!

(P.S.  And please, please check out this post from the GirlTalk blog Sitting in the New Year.  This is an amazing post on how to approach New Year’s resolutions with a humble focus on God)

Psalm 34:17-18

When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears

and delivers them out of all their troubles.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted

and saves the crushed in spirit.    Psalm 34:17-18

These verses lead me to ask myself, “Self, when do you cry for help? At night when fears and fatigue start their vicious attack?  In the morning when the start of a new day seems too much to bear?  In the afternoon or mid-morning when the crush of the everyday — the urgency — starts to make its many demands?  Whenever the time, it doesn’t matter, because “when the righteous cry” “the LORD hears and delivers.”  Look back on the last 24 hours.  Have you cried for help?  And were you delivered? Yes, Self, you know you have cried and you have been delivered. ”

To which my Self replies, “But being rid of fear is a reoccurring struggle, and being delivered from a certain fear one night doesn’t mean it won’t rear its ugly head the next night.  Great sorrow happening at once can make a person brokenhearted and crushed in spirit.  But, it does not always take an extreme event to produce that same result.  The daily drip of anxiety, the nagging of a certain fear, the inner voice that constantly condemns, day in and day out all lead to a crushed spirit as well.”

To which Self is answered, “But what does the Word of God say?  The LORD is near to you, O brokenhearted! The LORD is your salvation, O crushed in spirit! Hold that. Cherish that truth.  Use it to fight your fears.  Remember to cry out to the LORD God.  He is your sure salvation.”

Dear Lord,

It’s three in the morning and I’ve been robbed of sleep.  I hear fears and what-ifs come rushing at me. 

I feel my anxiety rise to meet them.

My body is so tired.  I toss and turn; I cover my head, but my wakeful mind is the host to these voices of fear —

and I can’t shut them out.

Oh, give me grace and deliverance from these enemies.

Drive out anxiety and fill me with trust in you!

Drive out my fears and fill me with reminders of your mercy!

I am a child of little faith, so hold me close and fill up my lack.

Remind me of your promises.

Let me rest in your peace,

and let me sleep again.

Blessed be God,

because he has not rejected my prayer

or removed his steadfast love from me!   Psalm 66:20

Storms

The clouds roll in so that even the sun hides.

Night in the middle of the day.

The wind blows.  Trees bend.

Some break.  Some are uprooted.  Some remain.

Thunder crashes.

We jump.  Waiting for the sirens to sound.

Then we will hide.  But will we come out?

Sometimes we hear it coming.

Sometimes we don’t.

Waters rise.

Sirens wail.

The storm passes.

Houses gone.

Roofs caved in.

Pieces of dozens of homes are mingled together, strewn down the street.

Neighbors pulling neighbors out of rubble.

Strangers helping strangers.

Lives uprooted like the trees.  Lives lost.

All we have are memories.

Old memories of the things gone.

New memories of the things we see.

And want to forget.

What hope have we who can’t turn back the clock?

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? …Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? … For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8: 18-32, 35, 38-39

Praying for the people in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, Virginia, and Kentucky who are grieving even as they begin to pick up the pieces of their lives.

For love abounding and hope renewed.

Comfort and sleep at night.

Needs met and strength supplied.

Saturday Song: Jesus, I Am Resting

Jesus, I am resting, resting

In the joy of what Thou art;

I am finding out the greatness

Of Thy loving heart.

Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,

And Thy beauty fills my soul;

For by Thy transforming power

Thou hast made me whole.

Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,

I behold Thee as Thou art;

And Thy love, so pure, so changeless,

Satisfies my heart –

Satisfies its deepest longings,

Meets, supplies its ev’ry need,

Compasseth me round with blessings:

Thine is love indeed!

Ever lift Thy face upon me

As I work and wait for Thee;

Resting ‘neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,

Earth’s dark shadows flee.

Brightness of my Father’s glory,

Sunshine of my Father’s face,

Keep me ever trusting, resting,

Fill me with Thy grace.

Jesus, I am resting, resting

In the joy of what Thou art;

I am finding out the greatness

Of Thy loving heart.

Words by Jean Sophia Pigott (1845-1882)

Here is a link to the song (with an added verse, included below).

Oh how great Thy loving kindness,

Vaster, broader than the sea,

Oh how marvelous Thy goodness,

Lavished all on me!

Yes, I rest in Thee beloved,

Know what wealth of grace is Thine,

Know Thy certainty of promise,

And have made it mine.

He still leads me…

I was traveling yesterday, so I’m a little behind on my blog-reading.  Today, however, I had some spare time between conference sessions and read this beautiful post from GirlTalk that I wanted to share here.  The post, Walking in Darkness, reminded me of seasons where I walked not knowing with certainty what the end result would be or even what the next day would look like.  I believe that God uses those times to take my eyes off the path I’m traveling to focus on the One who is leading me.  So, the days, or even years, of not knowing are really a mercy that draws me into a deeper understanding of God, who is Love.  How great the Father’s love that He stoops to pick up his child, even in the midst of confusion and complaining and tears, to reassure her that she is still cared for by the One who will never leave, not even in the darkness.  The post also reminded me of the song All the Way My Savior Leads Me.  A perfect meditation before drifting off to sleep.